Light Reading
Orange has set up camp in Silicon Valley to find startups with interesting services for its network, but it is more interested in partnering than acquiring talent.

Orange on the Partner Hunt in Silicon Valley

Sarah Thomas
10/29/2013
50%
50%

SAN JOSE -- Digital Disruption -- Orange has realized in the past 5-7 years that innovation has to come from both inside and outside the company, but it's leaning more toward outside these days.

Speaking on a panel here Tuesday, Georges Nahon, CEO of Orange Silicon Valley, the US arm of France Télécom, explained how the process of innovation has evolved at the Paris operator. It has its Orange Vallée subsidiary working on innovative communications apps inside, but it recently expanded its focus to look outside its walls and even outside its home country. (See: Innovation Makes Life Better for Orange and Is Orange Really Innovating?)

The company has had a Silicon Valley presence for years to be closer to the developer community. This May, it welcomed its inaugural class of startups as part of its Fab accelerator program, in which developers spend three months at Orange labs building new services that leverage the Orange network. (See: 'Orange Fab' Has Its First Startups and Euronews: Orange Hatches Startups.)

Rod Randall, executive partner at the private equity firm Siris Capital, joined Nahon on stage and talked up the power of investing outside the company to acquire talent. But Nahon said Orange is most interested in partnering, signing distribution deals, and potentially building special features today.

"We are being approached all the time about investors that want to see Orange be an acquirer in an existing company," he said. "We are a network services provider. We operate network services. We aren't an Apple creating devices. The network business is very resilient."

Sure, you can disrupt the network, Nahon said; voice is still there, even if it isn't what it used to be. But Orange is more interested in complementing what assets it does have with people who develop services on the periphery of its core business. "I don’t see ourselves getting into product design and manufacturing," he said. "The reason we want to invest in services companies is this is the other side of the network business, the people from the cloud and apps business. These are nice combinations. We don't converge; we combine."

Most of the innovation Orange has seen coming out of Silicon Valley has centered on mobile services, rather than infrastructure, but Nahon said the evolution to software-defined networking has shifted the focus. Young entrepreneurs think they can do telecom without the telcos or just build over the top of their networks -- and a good number of them have -- but Orange's goal with the Fab program is to show them the benefit of a partnership. One example he cited was a cloud-based call center that uses big data analytics behind the scenes to understand callers. Orange decided to partner with this company to co-brand and co-market the service.

The overall roadmap in terms of what services it develops is decided by Orange's top management in Paris, Nahon said, but with many more inputs than would have happened in the past. Part of that process is this new practice of talking to people and companies it hasn't talked to in the past but that might bring value to the industry. "You just can't put everything on a roadmap. You need to be prepared to disrupt the roadmap at some point."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/3/2013 | 5:34:29 PM
Re: Competing for partners
These are all very valid points. However I think that one of the larger issues faced by app developers is simply access to the carriers infrastructure.

Apps that leverage existing API's or unpublished capabilities lying on the fringe of he network are one thing, but the possibilities that lie in the network "crypt" are extremely difficult and timeconsuming to gain access to, even for the carriers internal "innovation" development.
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
10/29/2013 | 6:16:43 PM
Re: Competing for partners
Good point. It seems like if you're a developer with an innovative idea, you have a lot of options in front of you. But, if you are a developer with an innovative idea, I'm not sure an operator incubator is your first choice. I think it depends how far along you are and whether you want VC funding or to be acquired or to become an operator partner. Interesting, too, that it'd rather partner than acquire, although I wonder if it's eyeing exclusive or white-label-style partnerships.
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
10/29/2013 | 6:13:24 PM
Competing for partners
Given that every large service provider I talk to now says they are looking to be better partners to innovative applications and services companies, I wonder if any of these companies are being pursued by multiple carriers. 

I did like his frank assessment of what Orange is and what it isn't. 
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Virtual CPE

1|27|15   |   01:38   |   (1) comment


As NFV strategies evolve from tests and trials to production telco networks, expect to hear a lot about virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) rollouts during 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
LRTV Interviews
Bob Wilson, Arsenal Legend: The Light Reading Interview

1|16|15   |   35:36   |   (3) comments


Arsenal goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson was Light Reading's guest interviewee at the 2020 Vision Executive Summit in December. See what the former soccer star and sports broadcaster had to say when he took to the stage in Iceland.
LRTV Custom TV
What MEF Third Network Initiative Means for SDN & NFV

1|14|15   |   6:13   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss discusses the importance of the MEF Third Network initiative and why it's good news for SDN/NFV industry initiatives.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
BlackBerry Wants Net Neutrality Protection – That's Just Sad
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/22/2015
FiOS Picks Up Pace Again
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 1/22/2015
Verizon Ready for Google MVNO Challenge
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/22/2015
Indiana Carrier Takes Fiber to the Farm
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/22/2015
The New Internet Space Race: Google's Final Frontier?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/21/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive